Dueling Critics: 'The Original Grease' returns to the stage

May 6, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(Photo by Brett Beiner)
'The Original Grease' is playing at the American Theater Company through June 26.

After 40 years, Grease is back where it all began, in more ways than one. First, the production’s at a small space off Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. That harkens back to the plays early '70s debut in Chicago’s off-Loop theatre scene. Second, the characters Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbroski are working-class kids from Chicago’s Northwest Side. Indeed, Chicago is the original inspiration for Grease. And third, it all boils down to kids doing what kids do: getting busy with sex, booze, cigarettes and cheap thrills. And that’s what Grease was all about in the first place.

What Broadway and then Hollywood cleaned up, The American Theater Company has restored: The true grit of The Original Grease. To assess the results, Eight Forty-Eight spoke to the Dueling Critics Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel.